Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Schumann, New Philharmonia Orchestra, Otto Klemperer – Symphony No. 3


This is my post from this week's Tuesday Blog.

To conclude our three-part look at Schumann’s symphonies, I chose my favorite of his, the Rheinish. It was composed in1850, the same year that he completed his Cello Concerto (which was published four years later).

Schumann was inspired to write the symphony after a trip to the Rhineland with his wife Clara. This journey was a happy and peaceful trip; he incorporated elements of the journey and portrayed other experiences from his life in the music.

There are two forces at work in the Symphony – an essential formal conservatism and an exuberant rhythmic and melodic inventiveness. These two forces combine to give the opening movement tremendous swagger and swing. The three central movements function as interludes, capturing different moods and suggesting different scenes, while simultaneously fulfilling the requirements of the symphony for a scherzo and a slow movement.

With the finale, the animation of the first movement returns. Here, Schumann emphasizes rhythm and clarity of articulation (much of the music is marked to be played staccato), giving the music a propulsive lightness that drives the Symphony to its exhilarating, noble close.

This vintage performance by Klemperer and his “new” Philharmonia is capped off with the overture Schumann wrote for what we should think of as a “Faust oratorio;”. Schumann's music suggests the struggle between good and evil at the heart of Goethe's work, as well as Faust's tumultuous search for enlightenment and peace.

Happy listening!

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Symphony No. 3 In E Flat Major, Op. 97 ("Rhenish")
Overture To Goethe's "Faust", A3, no. 0

Orchestra – New Philharmonia Orchestra
Conductor – Otto Klemperer

Angel Records – RL-32064
Format: Vinyl, LP, Reissue

DISCOGS - https://www.discogs.com/Schumann-New...lease/13714543

Friday, May 7, 2021

Musikalische Akademie der 7. Mai 1824

This montage from our Podcast Vault revisits a post from May 4, 2012. It can be found in our archives at 


On this day in 1824 at Vienna’s Kärntnertortheater Beethoven premiered his Ninth Symphony. As I discussed in the original post, two more Beethoven works were also performed that night – three sections of his Missa Solemnis and an overture he wrote for a re-staging of Kotzebue’s The Ruins of Athens for the opening of Vienna's new Theater in der Josefstadt nearly two years earlier. Because the text that was used differed from the original, Beethoven wrote new music including the overture which we now know as The Consecration of the House Overture.

The Ninth symphony needs no introduction; its celebratory tone makes it a favourite at special concert events. The symphony is remarkable for several reasons; it is longer and more complex than any symphony to date and requires a larger orchestra. Beethoven’s inclusion of a chorus and vocal soloists in the final movement was a first as (presumably) nobody had done that in a symphony.

Beethoven composed more music after the Ninth, devoting his energies largely to composing his late string quartets, but no more symphonies. There are, however, symphony fragments in Beethiven’s many sketchbooks, all clearly intended for the same symphony, which would have followed the Ninth, since they appear together in several small groups, and there is consensus that Beethoven did intend to compose another symphony.

British musicologist Barry Cooper assembled the sketches into a coherent concert score first performed in 1988 by the Royal Philharmonic Society, London, to whom Beethoven himself had offered the new symphony in 1827.

As filler for today’s post, here is the combination of a lecture on the score by Dr. Cooper and a performance by the London Symphony under Wyn Morris.

I think you will (still) love this music too.

Friday, April 30, 2021

For Your Listening Pleasure - May to August 2021


Below is our programming calendar for May, June, July and August. A few points of note 

  • Items that were part of Project 366 are identified, to help identify items that have not been "recycled" yet
  • Items with yellow marks are part of a thematic arc

Kirill Kondrashin (1914-1981)

No. 356 of the ongoing ITYWLTMT series of audio montages is this week's Friday Blog and Podcast. Mobile followers can listen to the montage on our Pod-O-Matic Channel, and desktop users can simply use the embedded player found on this page.

This week’s new podcast features the Moscow Philharmonic and its Chief Conductor from 1960 to 1975, Kiril Kondrashiin.

Kondrashin was formed as a conductor at an early age, making his conducting debut at the Moscow Children’s Theatre in 1931, later working as assistant conductor at the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Moscow Academic Music Theatre in 1934. For almost 25 years, including a stint at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow as a member of the conducting staff in wartime until 1956, Kondrashin was mainly an opera and ballet conductor, though he did dabble in orchestral repertoire. Notably, his performance of Dmitri Shostakovich's Symphony No. 1 attracted the composer's attention and led to the formation of a firm friendship.

After leaving the Bolshoi, Kirill Kondrashin concentrated on orchestral conducting, becoming highly thought of as a concerto accompanist and working with the country’s leading instrumentalists, such as Emil Gilels, Leonid Kogan, David Oistrakh, Sviatoslav Richter and Rostropovich. In the first International Tchaikovsky Competition in 1958, Kondrashin was the conductor for Van Cliburn, who won the first prize. After the competition he toured the USA with Cliburn, being the first Russian conductor to visit America since the Cold War began. The performances and recordings with Van Cliburn helped to establish an international reputation for Kondrashin. He held numerous subsequent engagements in the America, the last being a concert at the Hollywood Bowl in February 1981.

The two works on the program today are Tchaikovsky’s Third orchestral suite – a work that requires little introduction, as it has been featured in past shares- and Shostakovich’s Sixth symphony.

Shostakovich had announced once in September 1938 that he was anxious to work on his Sixth Symphony, which would be a monumental composition for soloists, chorus and orchestra employing the poem Vladimir Ilyich Lenin by Vladimir Mayakovsky, but the declamatory nature of the poem made it difficult to set. He later tried to incorporate other literature about Lenin in his new symphony, but without success. Finally, he settled on a purely instrumental symphony, completing it in September 1939.

On 21 November 1939, exactly two years after the premiere of the Symphony No. 5, the premiere of the Symphony No. 6 took place in the Large Hall of the Leningrad Philharmonic in Leningrad by the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra under Yevgeny Mravinsky. The symphony had a successful premiere, however the work was later criticised for its ungainly structure and the jarring juxtaposition of moods. The fact that the symphony was performed during a 10-day festival of Soviet music which included patriotic works (by Prokofiev and Shaporin ) probably did not help. The third movement galop is the movement Shostakovich himself thought was most successful (at the premiere, the finale was encored).

I think you will love this music too.